Account for the development of totalitarianism under Stalin between 1928-1945

Essay by supwillis November 2004

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Totalitarianism is best defined as participatory despotism; a tyranny exercised in the name of the people with an active participation (voluntary or coerced) of the people. Meyer believes totalitarianism develops most frequently because of perceived or real inequality, this was certainly the case in Russia, the Bolshevik revolution occurred because of the feudalism practiced by the tsar. Totalitarianism grew gradually in the soviet state from 1917 however, Stalinism proved a huge catalyst in the development of totalitarianism. What is important for one to remember is that the period of Stalinism was not one consistent period. The degree of state control of the individual varied not just over time but also due to the individual's status and geography.

The aspect of totalitarianism that was most clear in Stalinist society was its one party political system, a party that tolerated no rivals and allowed no hint of democracy. In the USSR, the communist party ruled absolutely and arbitrarily, party members received preferential treatment and in return spied, managed and reported on the people.

Under Stalinism a new class of elite bureaucrats was formed. The role of the party was central to Stalinist Russia and grew as Stalin's power grew. Christian argues that Stalin's rule involved a closer bond between party and state than had ever before been merged, all bureaucratic positions, factory managers, military supervisors and decision makers were party members. Totalitarianism flourished in Stalinist Russia because, as Lenin identified in his last testament, Stalin enjoyed unparalleled power within the party. As General Secretariat he individually approved or decline all party promotions and demotions, because of the party state relationship a one party state soon developed into a nation utterly devoted and completely loyal to Stalin, no one dared speak out and many did not whish to.

Stalins rule was launched, symbolically...